Listen to The Podcast:
In this Episode: Jenn breaks down exactly how she made over $50,000 in a single month in her home studio photographing boudoir clients.
Can photographers still make a living doing photography full time? If you want to know exactly how Jenn Bruno Smith does it, watch this interview where she breaks down exactly where she finds her clients, how she charges, and exactly how she started.
What’s even more surprising is that she’s done this from her home studio inside of her house while raising three children under the ages of 6.
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6 Places to Find Your Ideal Client: https://programs.thehighrollersclub.io/6-places-ideal-clients
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About Jenn Bruno Smith:
After leaving a successful career as a speech pathologist and clinical liaison, Jenn moved into pursuing her business full time. She has been shooting boudoir exclusively for 4 years and teaching marketing and business to the photography industry for the last two.
Jenn is a featured educator in the Do More Forum and AIBP. She is a guest blogger for Skip Cohen University and her work has been featured on Fstoppers. Jenn enjoys mentoring other photographers and teaching them her ninja business ways. She also enjoys spending time with her family and three small children, as well as sleeping (when she finds the time).
You can catch up with Jenn in her group The High Rollers Club- IPS, Business and Marketing for Boudoir photographers
About the Interviewer Humberto Garcia:
Humberto Garcia is the world’s leading photography business growth expert.
Founder of Photography to Profits and high-performance coach to multiple 6-figure photography businesses. Humberto coaches photographers from his special operations military experience and photography sales and marketing experience. After years of high performance in Marine Special Operations and building businesses, he knows what works.
Humberto Garcia: [00:00:00] Welcome Today. If you’re wondering what the heck is on the screen, we’re looking at about fifty thousand dollars in generated income from a portrait photography studio here with Jean-Bruno Smith. And it’s ahead in about twenty-three days. So we’re going to find out exactly what led to this, and how this happened. And Jen’s going to share some insights into what led to this immense success. So, hi, Jen. How are you?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:26] Hey, I’m really good. How’s it going?
Humberto Garcia: [00:00:28] Pretty good. So we’re basically twenty-three days into the fall, and this typically tends to be people’s like really, really busy season. Right. And for a lot of people, you know, fifty thousand hours in twenty-three days or a month, that can make up like their entire year. So before we even get into that, I want to know, how did you even get to this point? Like, how did you even get into portrait photography of women? How did you get into boudoir?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:54] It’s a great question. So I’ve been shooting for about nine years. I used to shoot family, maternity newborn for about five or six. And then I had a client that was like, can you take some sexy pictures of me for my boyfriend? And I was like, yeah, sure. And I started, and I was really good at it. And then it just kept going, and I kept getting hired. And then, I started figuring out the secrets to running my business effectively. And it just took off. And now, here we are. Sometimes I’m still a little in shock about when I pull these metrics up, and I’m like, wow, it’s another $50,000 a month. Wow. I’m trending towards $60,000 a month. It’s insane.
Humberto Garcia: [00:01:37] Ok. So obviously, like you didn’t start like this, like, how did you even get to this point? Like what were the stepping stones? Like how long ago did you start?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:01:47] Yeah. So I started shooting in 2009. I worked a full-time job concurrently. I was a speech pathologist. So I worked in the schools. I worked in medical settings. And then, I got a job where I was working as a clinical liaison as basically a marketer, and I used to market to physicians. But what that allowed me to do was have a lot more freedom. So I was basically making my own schedule, and I was working from home and kind of going out and marketing to hospitals when I wanted to. And that allowed me to start shooting more. And what I found was the more I started shooting, the more I was getting hired. And then it just got to the point where I was losing money by working my day job. And so I quit. And here I am.
Humberto Garcia: [00:02:38] Ok. So that’s a pretty long journey. But like, how did it start? Like, you know, a lot of people, I always hear this too, people credit like people’s success to where they live. You know, maybe they had like some artistic side like. Do you consider yourself just natural-born? Like when you started? Was it all like super successful or like, where did you even begin? Like as far as the business?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:03:01] Yes. So I feel like my education and my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing, and then I worked as a clinical liaison. So I really dug into the marketing side. And I feel like once I started working those jobs and getting that education, I started realizing and understanding what I needed to do to apply it to my photography business.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:03:24] And once I started doing those things, it really started taking off. And for me, I think the key was building my email automation. I really feel like that was the start of when my business started to become really successful. Having those multiple touchpoints with my clients was so important.
Humberto Garcia: [00:03:46] Ok. So you start getting those emails and like people start getting contacted multiple times. How did you even start getting people on your email list?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:03:56] Yeah, it’s a great question. So I actually didn’t start running Facebook ads until July of this year. So last year, my business grossed over half a million dollars without any Facebook ads, without Google AdWords. Right. So what I started doing to build my business was going to bridal shows, and I used to do like eight to 10 shows a year. I was like hitting the pavement hard, and I would build my email list through bridal shows. And the great thing about bridal shows. I don’t think they get enough credit. I believe that a lot of people write them off, especially boudoir photographers. But it’s very powerful because, you know, when you think about booking people most of the time, and you know, it’s much easier to book warm leads. And what you’re doing in a bridal show is turning people into warm leads quickly because they’re getting to know you. They’re seeing your work, they’re having that one on one interaction.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:04:47] And it’s so much more personal than when whenever you see someone coming into your inbox. You don’t really know them. So that’s the first really amazing thing about bridal shows. And then the second is you’re catching people at the beginning of their lifecycle. So think about when people book boudoir photographers or really any photographer in general. It’s been major life event. Right. When you’re getting married before your first child, after your second child, when you’ve lost 20 pounds, or when you’re getting a divorce. Right. So people will book you at major changes in their life cycle. And whenever you start getting to know them at the very start of their life cycle, their adult life, they’ll keep following you, especially if you stay in their inbox. And I just talked about this the other night. It’s a really great experience.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:05:37] Last week, I did a shoot for a woman. And I always ask her when like how they found me because my studio manager, Nikki books a lot of my shoots now. So I really don’t have a lot of interaction with them before. But she ‘s like, you know, you are never gonna believe this. But seven years ago, we were in a Christmas tree farm. And you took a picture of my daughter who was six months at the time. And then we got on your e-mail list, and we’ve been following you ever since. And so my sales average is four thousand dollars. And I booked her because seven years ago I was actually pregnant with Jackson and we were in this Christmas tree farm doing our gender reveal pictures. And I remember them. I saw them, and her daughter had these beautiful blue eyes. And, you know, the light was perfect, and it was green behind her.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:06:23] And I was like, oh, my God, your daughter’s gorgeous. I’m so inspired by her face. I just want to take her picture. I’ll e-mail you the picture. I don’t want any money. And they kept my information. I stayed in their inbox. And then she hired me. And that’s and $4000 sale, easy if not more.
Humberto Garcia: [00:06:41] That’s really cool because you know that that seems like you just love photography so much, and you’re like obsessed with it, and you see pretty things and you, like, take photographs of them. And a lot of times, everyone always thinks, you know, what kind of marketing ploy is this or that? And it’s like, you know if you provide value to people and you connect with as many people as possible and just be nice, and you provide value back to the marketplace, people remember you, and that’s how they tell their friends about you and write reviews. And I feel like you’re getting you’re at that point because you started from that, right?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:07:11] That’s it. And I think that’s the key that people miss, is you have to remember that people buy from people they know and that they like and they trust. So your client base needs to know you. They need to like you, and they need to trust you. And if you’re missing any of those things, it’s difficult to get booked.
Humberto Garcia: [00:07:27] Yeah, and I always make the analogy that, you know, who’s the realtor you used to buy your house? It was the one you knew, right. Might not be the best realtor in Delaware. You don’t know who that is. No one knows that. But, as long as you know them, you like them to your world, they become the best realtor because you use them. Why would you not use somebody who is actually really good? Yeah, that’s right. So you mentioned your average being at that point. So obviously, like, you know, seven, eight years ago, like that wasn’t your average. So how did that escalate? How did you go from, like, taking people’s pictures for free and sending them, you know, at a pumpkin patch place? Where you are now? What was that transition? Was it just overnight?
Jenn Bruno Smith[00:08:14] Wasn’t overnight. It’s been a lot of growth and a lot of you know, so I come from a scientific background. Right. And so, I understand the scientific process and analyzing things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t and changing variables. And so getting to this point has been a lot of that. And I’m always analyzing my process and tweaking things and looking at my shooting workflow and seeing which poses our selling and which art and how they can change and what I can do to be better and to do better. And, you know, even from last year to this year, I think last year my sales average was like gosh I don’t know.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:08:49] Thirty-one. I forget it offhand, I can tell you exactly. But I mean, it was like thirty-two hundred. This year it’s four thousand. So even just in a year and last year, I was like, there’s no way I’m going to, you know, $3000, the great sales average. Like there’s no getting higher than that. And then this year, like it’s solidly four thousand. It’s crazy. But if you keep working and, you know, changing your figuring out what works, you just keep getting better.
Humberto Garcia: [00:09:20] Yeah, I think that’s a really good point, right, because a lot of times I’ll see people that will try to cherry-pick pricing from a bunch of different people, put it together, and they turn it into one sort of process, it’s the Frankenstein of stuff.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:09:32] I was just talking about that today, Humberto! I literally just talked about that on the phone this morning.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:09:39] You’re right. Absolutely.
Humberto Garcia: [00:09:40] So I put together this Frankenstein. And then when they don’t have that mindset of like, how do we improve all this? Like, they just try it once, and they say, well, this doesn’t work. And then they go into a Facebook group, and they’ll validate it and say, who else has a problem with I.P.S. And then, you know, the people that also believe it, they’ll validate their opinion, and they’ll say, yeah, you’re right, it doesn’t work. And then they just leave. And they say, well, three people on Facebook groups said it didn’t work and it didn’t work out in time for me. And they give up like, yeah. How do you get past that?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:10:10] I love that you just said that! I was literally just talking about that this morning. I talk to so many photographers. And, you know, listen, there’s more than one way to do things, right. And our way isn’t the only way that works. Right. Other ways work, too. But what I find is that photographers will pull bits and pieces from what I do and then bits the pieces from someone else and then someone else and someone else. Then they try and build this Frankenstein of a business model. And then they’re like, why isn’t this working? I’m not finding success. It’s like you’re using things that don’t work together. The sum is greater than the parts. So what you need to do is find something that works, a model that works, and when you lean into it, and you do it, and you, you know, open up to change. Instead of doing it, I know you’re trying to do it the cheap way and just pulling inexpensive things from each. But that doesn’t always work. It’s better to just make the investment and do something that works and then do it the whole way instead of pulling these bits and pieces out from a million different models.
Humberto Garcia: [00:11:12] Yeah. Okay. So you go into these bridal shows, you know, what was that even like? Like, what were you like? Was your first both successful? Did it look pretty, like what did that look like?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:11:24] So the first show I actually took some I was there. I was pregnant. I was pregnant with gosh, I forget which baby. I know I was definitely pregnant. I don’t remember which one though. And then we had Liz, my makeup artist. And then I actually had a girl named Taylor who was the very first girl that I did a boudoir shoot for. And we booked eight people. And I was like, oh, my gosh, this actually works. And my booth was not impressive. I had done maybe three shoots, and those were the images that I showed. I used a tablecloth and a used ribbon, and I tied it to a backdrop stand. It was very simple. But once we realized that it worked, and then I collected those e-mails, and I started following up with people as a coming Dash 8 shoots like that. That was so simple. And I invested in that, you know, the fee to have the booth. But it’s paid back in spades because I will still book people from shows that I did three years ago. Like they’ll book me, and they’ll be like, hey, I met you in Philly in 2016, and I’ll be like, well, how they go even keep my marketing cards. It’s crazy.
Humberto Garcia: [00:12:36] Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So. You know you book those 8, and you start getting those emails. Like, what do you think the hardest part was of even getting started with it? Because I know for me that’s something I would probably never dare do, because like I just, I would get overwhelmed by like how much physical stuff has to be made. I’m so like fickle that I would get something printed, and then I would want to change it. And I’m like, well, I can’t do the show now. So, like, what do you think was the hardest part? And like, you know, what stops most people from doing it very successfully?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:13:14] Yeah, so what held me back in the beginning was I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know how to do a show. I didn’t know what I needed. And there aren’t a lot of resources out there. Like, I remember being on Pinterest and looking on Pinterest and searching Facebook groups. And there were no courses that told me as a boudoir photographer how to do a show and do it well. And so that was the biggest thing that was holding me back because I didn’t have a guide. I didn’t know what to do. And I was fairly new to the genre, fairly new to, you know, running a successful business and being booked out. So, you know, that was basically what held me back in the beginning. But now I’ve done so many shows. I order all of the promo stuff like a thousand or two thousand and a clip, and it just stays in my garage. And now I’m at the place where I’m booked until all this well, late August of 2020, like booked solidly with three to four shoots a week. It’s crazy. I’ll be booked out for 2020 by the end of this year, shooting 3-4 times a week. It’s crazy.
Humberto Garcia: [00:14:25] That’s pretty crazy.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:14:27] It’s job security. I love it. Like I know I’m going to have income. I’m not worried about it. Like I love shooting. And when I don’t shoot, I just took a vacation, and I didn’t shoot for five days, and I was starting to get a little anxious.
Humberto Garcia: [00:14:43] Where did you get the emails for your email contact? When you started? Because I know for a lot of people, they go to the shows, they’ll try it. They’ll book some people there, and they might get some emails. But then I’ve almost every person I’ve spoken to like if they’ve done the show before, they’ve spoken to me or you, it’s not a horror story because it’s better than they were before. But they will literally be like, oh, my God, I’d like my show went pretty well. I got bookings. It paid for itself. I have all these e-mails. What do I do with them? What do I write to these people? And I’m like, wait, how long ago was that? I’ve really had people say it was a month ago, two months ago. I’m like, oh, no.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:15:19] You need to continue. Yeah. So I wrote them and I just, I actually got a copywriter, and what I do is I sent her like this, you know, a blurb of information. And then she makes it look really pretty and puts it all together. So we did that. And then now my studio manager will write blogs. And so I shoot so much and almost all of my clients who let me share their images. I would say maybe nine out of 10. And so after every session, I send out a post-session questionnaire, and nine out of 10 times they fill that out, too. And we turn that into a blog. And so a lot of my e-mail marketing is actually relationship building. And so it’s a lot of like before and after, and here’s Miss A’s story. And then in between there, there’s thrown in like informational things like what types of lingerie to wear if you’re built like this, or what types of lingerie are the best to wear for your boudoir shoot, the five makeup types that that look best whenever you’re doing a two hour shoot or this is what will happen or how to take off your false eyelashes, things like that. People want to know, and they might be scared to ask, or they might not even know that they need to ask or that they need to know it. So things like that are really helpful. And when I’m providing them, you’re more likely to have people open emails when you’re providing them with information that they want to know instead of just. This is the biggest mistake I see photographers make with automation is they will just send out email after email with sales and promotions. And so the only time you’re hearing from people is whenever they’re running a sale, which is once a month. So there’s no sense of urgency there for your client base because all you’re doing is driving sales at them like there’s no but there’s no relationship building. Right. So it’s just a bunch of sales and no one buys it.
Humberto Garcia: [00:17:11] And by the way, a pro tip, because obviously, you guys know if you guys are on our email list, that Jenn and I have tons of emails and tons of value that we put in there.
Humberto Garcia: [00:17:19] One thing you can do, like if you absolutely hate, hate, hate writing like me and Jenn, kind of, is doing Facebook lives, and then you can either go back and write your points out from what you’ve said, or you can even think Google, I actually like the new Google thing, there’s in like an accessibility thing where. No kidding. We were writing a blog, and I literally just put my phone, and it transcribed the whole thing. We just went back in and fixed some of the words, and there’s an entire blog or a full page. It’s so smart. And I know me, and you do that a lot like we’ll do lives, and then we’ll give them to a writer and then they’ll just write.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:17:56] Yours are always better, though, because you can stay on topic, and I ramble.
Humberto Garcia: [00:18:02] Yeah. OK. So you like you got all these emails and by the way, like, you know, people sometimes it’s hard. Like if someone’s at 0 emails, it feels like it feels kind of like, you know, the feeling you have, like when you’re starting Instagram, and you have zero followers, you start your business off at zero, you get excited, you make your profile. You said you like post your 9 of your images, you know, like, oh, man, I got 20. Like, how do you, like, get past that barrier? Like, you know, and keep going if you have zero right now.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:18:34] Yeah. So here’s the thing. Like you just have to do it. I think so many people get hung up with the inaction or like the fear of action. And you just have to rip the Band-Aid off. You just have to do it, and everyone starts somewhere. Right. And, you know, today might be the day where you’re starting out, where you’re deciding to start, and you just have to do it. The years have to take that step and just start, because if you never start, then you’re never gonna get anything done. And if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to get where you’ve always gotten. And no one wants to stay there. Right. Even though last year we grossed half a million dollars, this year, my goal was to grow six hundred right from the studio. And it’s always good to keep moving and keep having goals. But you just have to start yourself to do it.
Humberto Garcia: [00:19:21] Yeah, and the funny thing is, you know, we have a lot of students that start with a lot of start with zero. Like the biggest thing is like if they want to jumpstart, I agree. Bridal shows definitely help. We do a lot of like options. So like we’ll create that. You said like a guide. We have a photographer that made like a launcher or a guide, and it sells like it doesn’t sell. But people opt-in. Everyone that joins the website. Right. Like 10 percent of people download it from the pop-up, and then even from ads, we’ll run traffic to that stuff. And honestly, I’ve heard people tell us like those are the best leads. And 10, 10 e-mails, 20 e-mails, 30 emails is better than zero people to talk to. Those people are joining their group. Those people are leaving their phone numbers. And, you know, you don’t need volume. I think you spoke to you did an interview with Lydia Chan, who had a flash sale. And I think she books like 30 women and she only had like 400 people in our group. Right. And everyone’s, like, obsessed. I don’t get ten thousand.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:20:23] And then they got matching tattoos.
Humberto Garcia: [00:20:26] Yeah, they got matching tattoos.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:20:32] They got matching tattoos. I was like that is like next level shit. That’s right. That’s wild. Yeah.
Humberto Garcia: [00:20:39] And by the way, speaking of which, not only do you have a massive email list, you have a massive Facebook group. And I always tell people like they’re not they’re almost the same thing. Right. Like they’re platforms that are like your communities that you get to deliver your message. How did you build your Facebook group? Like, how did you go from an email list from a bridal show to building a Facebook group?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:21:01] So a lot of work and a lot of work and a lot of engagement and a lot of I don’t know if codling is the right word, but I take care of the group. I put a lot of effort into it, especially in the beginning. I did a lot of lives. I did a lot of relationship building. And I know like the thought of doing a live in a group is kind of intimidating. I totally get it. But again, you just have to do it. And what you can do is actually ask your group what questions they have. What do you want us to talk about? Right. And then you’ll see like they’ll write a million things and then you choose what you want to talk about. And you pick one or two and say, someone writes, what do I wear to my shoot?
I actually did a whole lingerie class, and one night I picked out about like 20 pieces of boundaries. Some of it was mine. Some of it was from the studio. And I just picked the pieces up, and I talked like this is a bodysuit. This is what I love shooting these. They shoot really well. This is a baby doll negligee. Please don’t ever bring these because I won’t ever shoot it. Like I went through, pieces of laundry it was like a forty-five-minute class. And it was probably one of the most popular lives that I did. And people still watch it. And because my group is so big now, you know this better than I do. There are features that roll out in one of the features in my VIP grip as topics. And so all of my classes I have listed as a topic and in my VIP group, all the testimonials, there’s like hundreds in there. I list those as a topic so people can go in quickly. And if they’re new to my group, they can go right to click on the topic testimonials, and they’ll see like one hundred and twenty or one hundred and however many I have on their testimonials. So that’s really helpful.
Humberto Garcia: [00:22:51] Yeah. That’s really cool. So, you know, seven years ago, zero Facebook group, zero email list. And maybe for people who don’t know. Like it’s been growing steadily. Right. Because you used to shoot everything. Right. So let’s talk about that.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:23:08] Everything from newborns, all of it, dogs, everything. I mean, I wasn’t the best dog photographer. To be honest, it really wasn’t that great at it. But. Yeah, I shot everything because I remember I remember very specifically I would hear other educators talk, and they would be like, you need to find a niche. You need to find what you’re good at. You need to focus. And I know I can book so much more whenever I issue products and headshots and models and families and newborns and maternity and seniors’ and corporate headshots. Everything. I literally shot everything except for weddings because weddings give me an anxiety attack. But everything. And then, what I found is when I started leaning into my neck into one genre. It just grew massively. And now, in my state, in the tri-state area, I live in Delaware. People know me like everywhere. I like it out. You see, we’ll go into a restaurant and like there’ll be like a person staring at me and like, smile, wave. And I’m like, hey. But like and then they’ll come up to me, and they’ll know you whenever you find your niche, and you stick to it. People recognize you. And then you’re building that brand recognition, and you’re building that trust and loyalty. And so now, like if someone asks about a boudoir shoot in a Facebook group, my name will come up 50 times, almost everyone, because if I haven’t shot that person, I’ve shot three or four people that they know, you know, and that’s huge.
Humberto Garcia: [00:24:49] Yeah, that makes sense. And the other thing is, like, it’s really hard because I do work with people that shoot multiple genres and some of them are extremely talented and they’re like, you know, in a lot of genres. Number one, it’s very hard to find people that are like extremely talented and all these different genres, right? Yeah. Imagine trying to be like the best new born photographer and the best maternity at best headshot and the best wedding engagement portrait. It’s hard. Yeah. The second part is like. Then they have to start building out like email automations for almost every single one. So it’s like my level of education. Imagine like you’re a jack of all trades, but then the boudoir for Harvard. Imagine they’re competing with you. You have an email animation for a year just on this with like hundreds of testimonials. Yeah, they might have like to because their attention is just so spread thin. So like how did you even start weaning, weaning, weaning off of the different genres? And like how did you end up on boudoir?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:25:50] Yeah. So as I, as I guess, even think about like a scale as the scale started tipping with my boudoir, then it started tipping the other way, and I started tapering off the other genres. And newborn was the last genre that I tapered off up, and towards the end, I actually hired an associate photographer to take those newborn shoots because no one I didn’t want to shoot them. And number two, I wasn’t as good at it as she was because she shoots it all the time. And then I hired her to shoot Lincoln’s newborn pictures because I didn’t want anything to do with shooting my own kid. And I recognized that I wasn’t as good at it as she was. And that was a pretty pivotal point for me where I was like, okay, when I focused, and I leaned in my boudoir photography. And now, because I did that, I know I can do a good job no matter who walks through the door. I very rarely will get anxious anymore about anything because I know I’m prepared. I have all the tools in my head. I have all the poses I need to do. I know I can shoot someone no matter what their body type is, and that’s important. And you know, versus with a newborn, for instance, that was the other genre that I shot a lot of. You know, if you have a crying baby. I was like, all right, well, we’ll reschedule. I would that was kind of the point where I was. I didn’t even really want to try anymore. I was just like, we’re good, or hey, I’ll give you back your money, and we get to the point where you don’t want to, you know, try anymore. And that’s kind of where I was. And now, with boudoir, I feel like I am an expert at what I do. And because I have that confidence, it makes my clients trust me more.
Humberto Garcia: [00:27:37] Ok. So, by the way, I do want to jump back to this because this is probably why most people logged on, right? They were like, holy smokes. Like how it is this chart work. So walk us through this like you. This is basically I know it says the thirty first, but it’s only the twenty-third. So how many clients of this take like, you know, where are these people being booked from? How are they finding you like this, and how do you sustain this? Right. Because for a lot of people, they would just get so bogged down. I know for me I even think about I’d probably get so bogged down by just this month that like every month after it would go back down to like regular world five thousand six. Yeah. How do you like to keep it? Because I know some of your past months are like basically measuring this almost.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:28:23] Yeah. So I should put all of like how many sheets I did. I feel like this month I’ve done three, six, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. So this month so far, I’ve done fifteen shoots, and I’ve had eight ordering appointments, and I have five more ordering appointments to go. So I actually know that my year end, I’m trending by the end of this month, my month and revenues should be probably over 60. It’s going to be my highest month of the year. And how I maintain this is through cisterns and automations. Everything is systematic and very systematic in my workflow and my shooting. I have timelines. Everything is now down. And if I didn’t have those systems, there’s no way I can maintain this because it’s a lot of work if I had to write emails every single time. Think about the extra time that would take me. But instead, you know, they leave their shoot. I set the automation for their ordering payment, and then that goes. It’s like it. It just does it by itself. And so when they come back, they’re ready. And then most I do payment plans, but a lot of them pay in full. And if they pay in full, they leave. I place their order. If they’ve made one. If not, I do their album proof. I send it out, and I give them their digital files when they leave if they’ve paid in full. And so then all that’s left do I have to order the album, and they approve the proof. So it’s very systematic, it’s very simple, and it works really well. And I keep to my system, I continue to my timeline. That way, I don’t drop the ball on anything.
Humberto Garcia: [00:30:11] So one of the biggest things I’m going to ask is that this number is incredible. Like how do the expenses stay low? Yeah. How do they stay low, you know? And how did they just not creep? The outbreak is most the time when like businesses start making more money, like start spending even more. Right. Yeah. Or making fifteen thousand and then just going and spending twenty-five and then mean.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:30:35] That’s a great question. So I have three major expenses. Right. The red is client orders, the blue is retouching, and then the green is hair and makeup artist. Those are my three main expenses, and I don’t really buy anything else like. And my subscriptions come out yearly. So those expenses are like in on a different month. So some months it might be a little higher rate. Like I use a MODO, I use sticky albums, but still, that’s only, what, like three hundred dollars. So a lot of my subscriptions come out. At one time, at one time. So, I mean, I’m sure it’ll be slightly higher if I did it monthly, but I think it’s easier to keep track of it like that. And then really I don’t have a lot of expenses like I don’t go and buy crazy props. Like I’m very simple with what I shoot. Like, you’re in the room right now, where I shoot most of my sessions. And those two plants I got from Amazon like a year ago, that white raw I got from HomeGoods like five years ago, I got this tape history, a tapestry from Amazon.
Humberto Garcia: [00:31:45] I got that tapestry from Amazon. And I have two of them hanging. They were only sixteen dollars ap iece. And my clients love it. It’s like their favorite pop. And that chandelier I got from Amazon like a year ago, it was eighty dollars and very simple. Like I keep it simple. There’s no reason to continue to spend money, which is the other reason. When I got out of newborns, I was spending so much money on newborn props, like newborn hats and headbands and rompers and shorts. I mean, the list is never ending. And newborn diapers, you always feel like you need to have another prop. Another set, another look. Right. You don’t want to repeat the same thing with other newborns. Right. So you’re always buying, and those things are expensive. Like one newborn set is probably like one hundred and fifty dollars. You know, I was doing that all the damn time. So just taking that expense out is huge. But my three core expenses monthly are retouching client orders and hair and makeup, those, you know, every month. It’s the same with those.
Humberto Garcia: [00:32:48] Ok. So we’ve done an overview of like, you know, where you started, how you got here and like basically your ethos and like strategy. And then obviously that culminates in your monthly earnings and what you look like. So for someone who’s like watching this and like, I don’t even know where to start, I don’t even know how this works. Can you just like walk us through like, what does it look like? First, imagine your ideal client is out there, and they’re about to find you somehow, whether it’s like what is their journey like through your process? Like what does it look like before they know you all the way till like they’re picking up their packs? A skirt. Describe that.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:33:26] Yeah. OK. OK. So is this like with someone that’s book to me or someone that hasn’t looked at me?
Humberto Garcia: [00:33:34] I want to say with someone that has that, let’s just say they like they have no idea who you are right now. Like they don’t know you exist and they’re gonna find out about you today. Like, what would that journey look like? Like the touch points, you know, you know, everything your phone calls.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:33:51] So say they find me somehow, Larry. They’re in my VIP group or, you know, they find me through Google, or someone recommends me on this book. My first goal is to get them into email automation for my cold leads, which, like we were talking about, it spreads over a year at this point. And then, in those emails, my next job is to get them into another way of contacting them with my text messaging with my the IP group, with Instagram. I’m always trying to get them in as many ways as possible to follow me because remember, you can’t put all of your marketing eggs in one basket. Right. Like Facebook. You can’t guarantee that people will see stuff you put on Facebook. You can’t guarantee people will see stuff on Instagram. So you have to try and reach them in as many ways as possible. So they’ll follow me through my, you know, email automation. And let’s say they decide they want a book. So they send me out an email. And then, Nikki, my studio manager, will respond back and set up a phone console. And her booking rate is pretty good. I mean, she books probably about five out of 10 and which half is really darn good for booking. And then when they’re on the phone, when they give, she takes a retainer fee and then starts them end up Sarto, which is my CRM, my client relationship management software. And she will start them into automation for four booked clients. And so after she books them, she also schedules my hair and makeup artist and starts their automation.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:35:28] And then she writes to me and lets me know that they’re booked. And then I also write them on a paper calendar that I have because I really like paper calendars, and I like highlighters. And so I highlight them different colors so that I know quickly what I’m doing. So then they follow through my automation until their shoot, and two months before their shoot, Nicky calls them and confirms their date to see if they have any questions. A month before their shoot, they get another email saying, hey, in one month, you have a shoot coming up right back. Yes. If you’re ready to be a bombshell or whatever that e-mail says, and then it continues on, they continue getting emails. That’s. And then the day before their shoot, another e-mail goes out saying, confirm your shoot, it’s tomorrow. And if they don’t respond quickly enough, Nikki will text them and call them. And then Nicki will actually confirm with my hair and makeup artist to myself that the shoot is confirmed. So she’s on them and. I actually just started implementing that a few months ago because I wanted. I needed to turn over something else to her, and that was something I was doing. So I gave her that responsibility. So she follows up, and she also confirms my ordering appointments as well. And so we do the shoot. And then right after they leave, I start them. I start them in another automation for their ordering appointment, preparing them for their ordering appointment. And the first email they get.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:36:57] My full investment menu. And then there’s like seven or eight other emails that follow. Then they come for their order appointment. They make their purchasing decisions. And if they decide to do a payment plan, I will figure out their payment plan. We’ll figure out the terms of our payment plan when they’re there. I create all the invoices and square automatic invoicing so that they’re ready to go. I write down the amounts that they’re paying and the date. So every calendar, say their next payment is 11:15. I’ll write their last name, Smith, and then five hundred dollars and circle it in my paper calendar as well. So I know that that money is coming in. And then, on that day of our last team in, I’ll write deliver in my paper calendar just as a reminder that I need to get their order out as quickly as possible. And I always deliver on the day that their payment plan ends. They’ve been waiting for six months. I don’t want them to wait for a second more. Right. And then I placed their order. Once they approve the album, proof and albums are sent to me, and then I send them to the client and wall. I shipped directly to the client. And then if they’ve given me permission to show their images, I also send them out an email the next day asking them for a before and after or before picture. Just a no makeup selfie. And most of my clients do that as well. And then, they also get that post-session questionnaire that we turn into blogs.
Humberto Garcia: [00:38:22] That sounds pretty streamlined, and yeah. And that’s basically the exact same for everyone, right?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:38:29] It’s the same. It doesn’t change. I say the same things. I do the same things. Nikki does the same things. Yeah.
Humberto Garcia: [00:38:35] I remember a couple maybe like a year ago. Exactly. I remember because it was like my New Year’s resolution to go back to the gym. And I was listening to a podcast and the guy on the podcast, he says. The guy had a heart attack. He talked about how he never saw his kids, never had time with them, and he basically sold his business and how he wanted to get out of it. And he said one of the biggest problems was, was even though, you know, his business was like did have processes like they were doing a lot of custom work. And his quote was bespoke equals but broke. Right. So if you do bespoke work, which is like the English word for like, you know, ultra customer like tailored, like you’re going to be broke. And he said, you know, the thing you need to really focus on is just creating widgets. Right, to like create an assembly line. And you kind of describe that. Right. They get e-mail lists. They join your group. They get created. They have a phone console. They get put into this process. They get the shoot against the order. And then you guys have your behind the scenes processes. Yeah. You’re not going to have a heart attack, hopefully.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:39:38] Now, I very rarely get stressed out like ever.
Humberto Garcia: [00:39:43] And you’re not slow down month to month, because every single time I see people like scaling people that don’t have processes, it really quickly starts breaking down because they start getting overwhelmed. Things start falling apart. This didn’t get edited. This got ordered wrong there, ordered it, and come in like two albums from the same client because they didn’t realize it was the same client.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:40:01] Yeah, I actually missed a whole part of the process when you started talking about that. Because I also send it out to my retoucher. So as soon as they’re done with their shoot, I start that, you know, automation. And then I send out the images, I call them to send them. That’s my retoucher. And then they come back about two days before the ordering equipment. And then I do that work. And suddenly there’s a little part there that I forgot when you said that reminded me.
Humberto Garcia: [00:40:23] By the way, I did want to clarify because I saw on that chart. I know people might be curious on like how much you spend on advertising. And I’m kind of in there because we do your ads. And I think on a regular month, we were doing about maybe close to $1000 in advertising. You’re so busy now that you’re like, I don’t really need that. It might be like $300 or $450 somewhere in there, but it is super, super low depending on how many clicks the Google ads get. Now it’s super low. And even in my experience, you know, again, I want to break through to people’s stories because they’re probably just like, oh, you know, I’m not saying everyone, but some people are just like, well, Jen probably spends so much on advertising. So that’s the only reason I don’t see how much work goes into it. But people even spending two, three, four hundred, even a little bit, they see results in it. The best part is it’s like I always tell people like you only need to come up with like the first couple hundred, right. Even maybe the first hundred, depending on how good you are on the phone, how good your sales process is. Because if you put it in, and then you get a booking from that, then that just paid for advertising plus more as you go. You’re playing with house money.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:41:29] So yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Yeah.
Humberto Garcia: [00:41:34] How do you see that? Like for yourself? Like is advertising like a mass? Like, I know you do a lot of organic work, and that pays. Where do you see like the paid portion coming in?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:41:44] So it was very important when we ran our session giveaway and all this. I feel like that really helped grow the group. And so my group grew by how many did it grow by?
Humberto Garcia: [00:41:54] And I think now it’s like three thousand.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:41:57] Yeah. So I mean that. So, yeah, I mean there was definitely an ad spend that was by far the highest ad spend have ever done, but it’s paid off I books like what 90 sessions and we had three thousand people joined the group. And my email list grew by like forty-five hundred maybe.
Humberto Garcia: [00:42:15] Yeah, it was. And you know, a lot of people just saw the ads and got like impressions and it reminded older people about it.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:42:23] Yeah. And all those people traveled to my Web site. And so now we have their information in case we want to ever retarget them. Right. So that week there was a really large ad spend that mom buys. It was so worth it. Like you have to spend money to make money. So, you know, I feel like in the past when I’ve done this session giveaway and booked a lot of sessions, it was very successful. So it’s looking like 30 to 40. But with that extra steroid push, the Facebook ads, it basically doubled what I’d been doing. And it also circumvented, you know, Facebook does not like grow your group contests. Right? Like you can get your shit shut down for that. So the best way to circumvent that is to have people requesting to join your group instead of people adding people into the group. Right. So by doing this with ads, you’re reaching people that you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. And all of those ads, those three or four thousand people that join the group, those are all people that requested to join. They weren’t people adding other people into the group.
Humberto Garcia: [00:43:25] Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yeah. So actually, I had a man. I can’t believe it just slipped my mind because it was on the topic of the group itself. Anyways, so all these people join the group, and you already have your process where like you guys are posting. You’re going live like you are sharing content. Like if somebody was starting from zero. I know now things have changed with a little bit of group growth. Like how would you suggest a strong start? Because I know I was talking to maybe Kim. Kim actually just turned the mastermind, and she was telling me that she told me she’s in like week one. And she said that all she did was basically like start e-mailing people out and like postseasons, which means she has like three hundred eighty-five group members, and she’s already has a bunch of consults from that. So, where do people start? Like zero. And no emails like.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:44:20] Yeah, I think that’s a great place to start. It is your personal profile, like, you know, start and also Facebook is a huge community. So you want to like target communities that, you know, potentially could have your target client. Right. So in Delaware, there’s a city, like a town that has a very high income. The houses are more expensive. People make more money that live there. And there’s a mom’s group there. And every Saturday, they do like a small business Saturday. So I make sure that every Saturday, myself, or my studio manager, I will go in and post, you know, something that might be a secret. And that’s a great place to start, is doing some investigative work on like what areas in your community could potentially be filled with your ideal client and then start infiltrating those groups and joining them and becoming a presence there. And, you know, people need to see something quite a few times before they take action. So, you know, you just start posting every small business Saturday. You or you start being aware, you know, whenever people ask for our photographer, and you just start, you just have to start, you know?
Humberto Garcia: [00:45:34] Yeah. By the way, I remember what it was on the giveaway. Yeah. So, someone, I was talking to someone, and they were always so just against giving away sessions. Right. And I get it. A lot of people, a lot of times people are like, now, if I give away the session, then no one will buy a book until they find out who the winner is or they just. The number one argument to that is everyone, we’ve done this giveaway model for people have books before the giveaway has ended and now is in dozens and dozens. Some people, 50, some people 30, some people twenty-five. Some people close to 100. Yeah. And the other thing is, is if you don’t do the session if it leaves you open to getting people that will join the giveaway. They have no interest in that topic. Does that make sense? Like, especially never. I’ve realized this because, you know, we work with a lot of photographers is if we would do a giveaway where we gave away like a laptop, then we would just get random realtors being. Exactly. I want a computer to write. And that’s why I would never want to wear like something more powerful would be like a camera lens that works for a specific camera or a subscription to like an editing software that makes it like you’re not really going to join or like take up our email space. Like if you’re not interested in that. I think like boudoir is something that’s even more specific. We’re like really have to like kind of want to do it or have that person because there are some people that like they are super like looking to say like religious or they’re just super like 100 percent. And they’re just like, we’ll never know. Convincing 5000 e-mails won’t convince me.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:47:12] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And it is I mean, yeah, I’m gonna be doing a shoot for free, but I also booked 90 sessions, so I’ll gladly do, you know, a few hours of free work and take a hit. Like, I think, you know, I’ll spend about two hundred and fifty on retouching and then the album itself will be about two hundred and fifty-seven, about five hundred dollars and. But. I mean, I booked 90 sessions in my average sale is four thousand dollars. So fast math, right?
Humberto Garcia: [00:47:42] Yeah. It’s those people that get like the first couple days and that doesn’t include like even what’s going to happen. Yeah. And that have joined and now know about everything.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:47:52] Yeah, absolutely. It was totally worth it. And I only do want to hear like I’ll only do that one. And now I’ll do it again next August. And the other benefit of doing the session giveaway, and all this is is that I have all this new blood in my group. And Black Friday is coming up. And now, I have a bunch of new people that are getting to know me and have a few solid months to get to know me before I potentially run another flash sale. And I grabbed those people as well and book out the rest of 2020.
Humberto Garcia: [00:48:23] Yeah. That’s awesome. So we talked about a lot, and there’s definitely a lot of actionable stuff we go do. And the funny thing is, like I know for a lot of people, cause it’s the same with me. Sometimes I know what to do, and I even know how to go find out how to do it. But like, I don’t have certainty. I just won’t do it. I’m like frozen. I’m like, I just gotta keep thinking about it. So before we get off, like, is there any resource that, like has helped you, any book, any podcasts, anything that has helped you, like just take more action or that you would recommend to anybody else?
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:48:58] That’s a good question. So I’m, we always talk with you, always seems like a podcast, I like things like that. And I am such a doer and not so much a thinker. That sounds really bad. But if I think that something will works, I’ll just go do it and I’ll just jump. And sometimes I don’t necessarily think as much as I should about it, but for the most part, it’s been really helpful. But I love joy and hope for the way of the wolf. It’s I love him. That’s one of my favorite books. And then, of course, Simon said he gets great. I love him, too. But I honestly don’t do as much reading and listening as I should because I’m working so hard.
Humberto Garcia: [00:49:46] Yeah. I actually think that’s a good point because I think sometimes we do too much listening and reading and YouTubing and podcasting and et cetera. And I always say I’ve heard other people put this eloquently and they say that basically starts turning into a substitute for action. Right. And that could be anything, right? That could be a Facebook group. Right. It’s like instead of me going and doing all this stuff about e-mail marketing that I just heard, you know, in the past, I might have been like, well, I’ve got to go ask 60 people in a Facebook group to make sure that I’m doing the right thing because I won’t say it. Then it gives me an excuse not to do it. Yeah, I agree. I like doing it is probably the best teacher.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:50:28] And I also found like there’s such a groupthink sometimes where like you’re asking in a Facebook group, 500 people that don’t do it well either, then you’re going to get bad advice. Like it’s better to just go do it and see what happens and work hard and rather than like sit there and be like, oh, what do the masses think? What does everyone else think about this? Like, what should I do here? No, just go do it. And if it doesn’t work, figure it out. And or if you can’t figure it out, then find the tools to help you and then actually implement them.
Humberto Garcia: [00:51:02] Yeah. And I think one of the biggest things is like the masses tend to be very average as a whole. I am not saying anyone listening says is average, but I’m saying like obviously we have like a medium. Right. And my median income in photography is a very, very low. Yeah. I remember. And it’s kind of like real estate like it and ends up happening like in places where like creativity or your work controls your outcome. Like all the resources and issues pull up at the top, and then everybody else is left like thinking like the system doesn’t work. Right. Sometimes they don’t even think of them as real professions. You’re like. Is that your hobby or you’re a photographer, like, say, your hobby. And they don’t really realize. So if you go and ask the masses, you’re going to get the master’s answer where you’re just you’re going to get beat down, you’re going to discriminate like, well, didn’t work for anyone else. And it’s like, you’re right, cause they didn’t execute it. They probably never executed, and they didn’t do it well, even if they tried.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:51:55] Yeah. Or they weren’t open to change. They weren’t open to learning because you know, I talked with a lot of photographers recently to like I look at their work and I’ll be like, dude, you need to make some changes. And they’re like, no, no, my work is great. It’s great. I’m like, yeah, but how much money are you making? Are you getting paid for it? And you know, that’s the thing. You have to be open to change. But yeah, and it’s funny you say that because people ask me like I’ll meet someone like we were just in Utah visiting my dad. And, you know, you talk to people, and they’re like, all, Yeah. What do you do? I’m like, I’m a photographer, and I’m like, oh, yeah. So what else do you do? Like, what’s your job? And I would say, no, that is my job. I’m like, legit tog or rarely I get paid to do this. Oh, really? Because they’re so used to like people, you know, doing it as a hobby or like working another job or that’s like just their extra money. But like, you rarely find people like this that are doing this full time, and what I love is our masterminds are more and more students are just leaving their full-time job, and it’s so cool to see. I love it.
Humberto Garcia: [00:53:09] Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny because when I left the Marine Corps, I did 10 years and I remember, and so like five years, I went, and I went special operations. And my mom, you know, she’s like, no, I don’t know how to describe it. She’s like traditional Hispanic where she’s like, you know, son, when are you gonna get a real job? And my mom, I’m doing a job that, like only four hundred people in the world, have like I’m doing pretty well. My stepdad was like, yeah, he’s doing really well, don’t worry. And then when I got out of the military, she’s like, okay, now you can become an engineer. You can become a lawyer like your cousins, like, will you please make me proud? I was like, no, mom, I’m going to be a photographer. And I think she was going to faint because she was on the side like, what do you mean you have bigger things to do? And it’s just so funny that, yeah, you’re right. Like the industry, a lot of people look at it and, you know, sometimes we don’t do ourselves a big service. And it’s a good thing that, you know, hopefully, we I believe we have a really good resource for people that are like, you know, breaking that mold. And they’re making other people realize, like, hey, this can absolutely be a way to make a living way to add value back to your community and, you know, make something amazing, changed your lives.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:54:19] I mean, we’ve changed. It has changed our lives. It’s changed my husband’s life and our children’s lives. It’s absolutely amazing.
Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:54:29] We’re able to do things now that five years ago, I would have never even dreamt. Not in my wildest dreams. So, yeah, it’s amazing.
Humberto Garcia: [00:54:38] Yeah. Anyways, thank you so much for being on with me, Jen. I really appreciate it. And hopefully, we’ll be doing a few more of these, and hopefully, we’ll have a third person in here that would be interviewing. I look forward to that as well.
[00:54:51] Sounds good. Thank you so much. I hope that this was really helpful. We covered a lot today.